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Frédéric Flachéron was born Jean François Charles André Flachéron in the city of Lyon France on October 26th 1813 the son of the architect Count Louis Flachéron. In 1836 he moved to Paris and entered the Ecole Royale des Beaux-Arts where he was a student of the sculptor David D'Angers and the engraver of medals Jean-Jacques Barres. His brother Isidore was a student of Ingres.
In 1839 he won second place in the Grand Prix de Rome for engraving winning the sum of 120 French francs and exemption from military service. This didn't give him the right to be a "pensionnaire" at the Villa Medici in Rome but he moved to Rome anyway and his brother had already been living there for many years. In Rome he meet Caroline Hayard, daughter of Charles Hayard that had a shop of "articles for painters" that sold paints and canvas along with the chemical products for making Daguerreotypes. Frédéric and Caroline got married in 1842 and frequented the artistic world of French nationals in Rome. This group included especially the painter Jean-August-Dominique Ingres that had been, up to 1840, the manager of Villa Medici. Ingres and his student Jean Hippolite Flandrin associate with the Flachérons and paint a portrait of Caroline Hayard. In 2003 at Sothebys a photographic album was sold that belonged to Flandrin containing images of Rome, some of them signed by Flachéron.
Flachéron was also been friend of Mr. Alfred Bruyas who lived in Rome from 1846 to 1848 and was the patron of Courbet. Bruyas dedicated an important space to photography in his collection and he purchased from the Count some images in Rome in 1848 and this is known from the catalogue of the collection Bruyas that was published in Montpellier in 1851.
Frédéric Flachéron seems to have taken up photographed in 1847 and continued until at least 1853. Although there are images with a later date, we can suppose that with his reprints he used a later date to make to them seem more current.
His photographs, often dated and signed in full or with the initials F.F., are always calotypes created with the wet method invented by the husband and wife couple Guilloz-Sagez. They had been in Rome in 1846 and 1847 and very probably came into contact with Flachéron given that he was also French. Flachéron created calotypes in two formats. There are some images, all with the initials F.F. of around 175 x 215 mm while the works he signed in full are normally around 240 x 320 mm or slightly greater.
The photographic style of Flachéron is similar to that of Giacomo Caneva, both of them having an artistic background, and he successfully captured the clear and transparent light of Rome. He had considerable skill as a printer and his calotypes, when well preserved, have a special translucent rosy honey color. Flachéron used, for the negative, a thin paper manufactured by Whatman, that was waxed after the development and the positives were printed on the stronger French paper Canson.
Flachéron is considered the soul of the Circle of the Caffé Greco, he had a strong and genial personality, a friend of the important and lesser artists who frequented the famous Caffé. He was the same age as Giacomo Caneva and James Anderson and in 1850 they were all 39 while Alfred Normand, another member of the Roman Photographic School, was 11 years younger and the birth date of Eugène Constant is not known.
In 1851 he participated in the first Universal Exposure in London with the name "Flachéron-Hayard" exhibiting seven large images framed together so they formed one "Panoramic heliography on paper" of Rome and it was awarded a prize. The year after, he participated in the Society of the Arts in London sponsored by Antoine Claudet that included works by Henri Le Secq, Eugene Piot, Luigi Crette and others. At the same Exhibition two members of the Circle of the Caffé Greco, Giacomo Caneva and Eugène Constant were also present sponsored by Mr. Anthony. On this occasion Frédéric Flachéron introduced four images of Rome (catalogue N. 292, 411, 501, 532) The Church of the Madelaine in Paris (293), the bridge of Chaors (295) a Building in Venice (294) and an image of the cloister of du Puy (502). (Source: "Photography Exhibition at the Society of Arts" The Art Journal 1853, pag. 56). The titles of these photographs bear witness to his photographic activity outside of Rome, in Venice and in France.
In the 1866 Flachéron returned with his family to Paris where he died on June 28, 1883 at the age of 70.
In March 1987 there was an important auction in Paris of photographs from Flachéron estate.
[Kindly contributed by Marco C. Antonetto, Jan 3, 2008]